Figures from North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) have revealed that the council’s decision to reduce general waste collections has doubled rat sightings in North Lanarkshire in the space of a year.

Changes backed by Labour Councillors, including NLC Leader, Cllr Jim Logue, came into effect in September 2017 resulting in general waste bins being collected every three weeks, instead of every week.

Rat sightings reported to NLC in 2017 rose from 624 to 1,238 in 2018, then to 1,657 in 2019.

Similarly, callouts reported rose from 443 in 2017 to 878 in 2018, then to 1,181 in 2019.

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, says that communities in Newarthill, Carfin, Muirhouse and Newmains have all required assistance dealing with rats and that there may be more communities affected across the local authority.

In 2018, Mrs Fellows hosted a townhall meeting between residents and council officers to resolve the issue. One was recently organised by Councillors in Newmains.

In March 2016, NLC introduced charges of £46.35 for pest control callouts for private residents – but not council tenants – resulting in a decrease in reported sightings of 720 in 2015 to 457 in 2016; and a drop in callouts from 720 to 372 respectively.

Mrs Fellows believes NLC has a duty to all residents and that private tenants are being forced to fend for themselves which may have allowed the problem to spiral out of control.

Mrs Fellows says that the problem is so large, that Councillors are failing their most basic duties to keep streets clean and that the Labour-Tory Coalition in NLC must face communities and reverse bin cuts.

Commenting, she said:

“Due to the Labour-Tory Coalition in North Lanarkshire Council, bin collections have been slashed and communities across the local authority are now facing a public health crisis with rat sightings doubling in the space of a year since the cuts were enforced. Cuts to uplifts must be reversed at the next budget before the infestation grows.

“I have written to North Lanarkshire Council leader, Cllr Jim Logue, about these issues and I have always received a response from a council officer. It is embarrassing that in the fourth largest Scottish local authority, they are hiding behind council officers. Council leaders must be publicly accountable and face communities.

“NLC has a duty to residents – whether they are private or social tenants – to ensure we are able to live in our homes free from rats. This is basic stuff and the Labour-Tory Coalition is failing people. When communities are facing a problem this large, the £46 charge must be seriously looked at. It has undoubtedly allowed the problem to escalate by deterring callouts.

“It’s time for Cllr Jim Logue to scurry out of the woodwork; face up to communities; and for the Labour-Tory Coalition to reverse cuts to bin uplifts in the upcoming budget.”